How does the Agile methodology fit with previously established ways of working?

Photo of Allison Dhuy Springhouse VP of Operations agile

By Allison Dhuy, Vice President, Operations

So, you’ve gone Agile. Now what? Let’s discuss how the Agile methodology – a new way of working – can become compatible with your other current business processes, which are likely more traditional approaches.

Here’s a fact. Companies can only succeed and surpass their competition if they exceed customer expectations, and not just meet them. In the market today, customer expectations are evolving at a rapid rate. This is, in part, because of the pace of the digital evolution. (Think: instant messaging, chat technology, and digital home assistants.) Immediacy is the new norm. 

Exceeding your customers’ wants requires a strategic response, and your elected response is Agile.

Agile – a Mindset

Going Agile does not mean you simply change your product development processes. It should spark a culture change that permeates multiple aspects of your business.

In this article, I will briefly emphasize the connections between Agile and leadership and Project Management and DevOps and the other established business processes.

Agile and Leadership

Adopting the Agile methodology, even if only at a team or departmental level, requires leadership understanding and support. When asked why companies do what companies do, the first answer typically encompasses making money. But, leaders in Agile organizations should focus their answer on customer satisfaction. To succeed, the company should no longer prescribe to customers the next best thing. To succeed, the company should be driven by its customer input, feedback, and ongoing satisfaction.

In addition to prioritizing focus on customer satisfaction, leaders should limit their management oversight.  Leaders can expect a new role where they are enablers of self-organizing teams rather than managers of individuals. There will be new ways of coordinating work and new ways of communicating. There will be a focus on the product and not just the project.

Therefore, an organization will be successful at Agile only when the mindset is embraced and fully understood at the highest levels of management.

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Agile and the PMO

Many organizations are guided by regulatory oversight and governance. Often this is the role of a Project Management Office (PMO) within an enterprise. It isn’t so much a matter of running projects, it is making sure there is alignment with corporate standards and mitigation of risk.

So, when Agile teams work in the presence of a PMO or the PMO hears the company is about to embark on an Agile transformation, a coach can help the parties understand the balance of self-organization and commitments to the wider enterprise governance and oversight.

If you are embarking on an Agile transformation, practical guidance geared toward project leaders and the adaptation of an Agile approach is necessary. Qualified coaches can help organizations forge a healthy relationship between project managers and Agilists.

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Agile and Developers

At the heart of what your business produces are the developers. They are the makers, the creators, the designers. When an Agile framework, such as Scrum, is put into practice, your developers and the way they manage their work are directly impacted. 

Companies tend to focus on the coaching of Scrum Masters and the maturing of product owners but overlook the needs of developers. Do not make this mistake; developers are critical members of the team.

A Professional Scrum Developer workshop is a practical classroom experience that equips developers to understand Scrum, to sustain successful habits, and to avoid common pitfalls.

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Agile and Operations

When there are releases of new features, functionality, and information in quick succession, the act of getting all these enhancements into operation can become a bottleneck.

Once something new is ready for testing or production, it is often passed along to to become operational. Doing so typically requires manual tasks and this extends the amount of time before the product reaches the customer.

To remove this obstacle, forge and equip a DevOps team, cleverly called ScrumOps

  • Eliminate the separation of development and operations and encourage their partnership throughout the product’s life cycle. 
  • Automate the procedures to empower developers with the ability to keep the deployment process moving. 

To establish a fundamental understanding of DevOps and how it unifies development and operations and supports frequent deployments of higher quality product in satisfaction of customers, enroll in a DevOps Foundation course.

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Agile and IT Service Management

Consistent servicing and support of your information technology is mission-critical today. In support of your product delivery, all arrows point to the technology. There is high demand internally as teams strive for frequent deployments of high-quality product. And there is a high demand externally as customers look for the information, service, or experience they’ve come to expect. In the event of an issue, there needs to be an understood potential path toward resolution. 

Years ago, a set of detailed practices for IT Service Management (ITSM) were set forth and became known as ITIL (an acronym for Information Technology Infrastructure Library). It spanned support, service delivery, infrastructure management, security management, application management, software asset management, and the implementation of service management.

Today, there is ITIL 4, which is purposely expanded to provide a practical and flexible basis for organizations providing service in the world of digital transformation. The enhanced guidance embraces the Agile Manifesto and new ways of working, like Agile and DevOps. An update of ITIL (version 3, released in 2011), the recommended practices are now inclusive of the transformation to a digital environment.

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Agile and Everything

You’ve elected to adopt the Agile methodology. Wonderful! We recognize that a lot of thought went into that decision. There is no preset approach; there is no checklist to a definitive end. Adopting a business agility mindset is a sustained effort that needs to extend throughout your entire organization.

Discuss and identify your vision and anticipated challenges and look for solutions support along the way.

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